A disabled liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker, which lost propulsion off the Massachusetts coast early Monday, was in tow and being taken Tuesday to a protective area off the coast of Gloucester, MA, said an official with the U.S. Coast Guard.
There is “no immediate danger” to the Massachusetts coastline, said John Kousch, chief sector officer at the Coast Guard Boston Command Center. The 933-foot-long Catalunya Spirit tanker, which was located about 33 miles east of Chatham, MA, Tuesday, was being towed by two tugboats traveling about four miles per hour in a northwesterly direction parallel to shore, the Coast Guard reported.
The Catalunya Spirit, which is owned by Poseidon Gas and operated by Teekay Corp., was being taken to a northern anchorage point about seven miles off the coast of Gloucester where experts could troubleshoot what caused the loss of propulsion.
The tanker was transporting a full load (138,000 cubic meters) of LNG from Trinidad and Tobago to the Distrigas terminal near Boston when it ran into problems and went adrift. The LNG shipment will not be brought into port until the Coast Guard and the operator of the tanker have verified its safety, Kousch told reporters.
In the meantime, Distrigas has “sped up the timeline” for shipment of another LNG cargo to “ensure there are no energy concerns” in the New England region, he said. Kousch said he was “not obliged to say at this time” when the next shipment would arrive at Distrigas due to “security reasons.”
The Catalunya Spirit, which had a 29-man crew, lost propulsion around 3 a.m. Monday, according to the Coast Guard. Initial reports indicated that a computer problem spread to the boilers, causing the tanker to lose power, he said. Some of the power has been restored to the tanker’s switchboards.
“Right now we don’t have [an] estimated time of repair,” said Commander Howard Shaw of the Coast Guard cutter Escanaba, who spoke with reporters via telephone hook-up. “We’re still troubleshooting” the cause.
He noted that 18 to 20 feet seas and high winds had hindered the Coast Guard rescue efforts Monday. However, the weather “right now [is] cooperating,” and the tanker is expected to be in a safe area later Tuesday if the weather does not change course, Shaw said.
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